Catoosa's new Public Safety Complex honors Hamby-Lynch

Aug. 26—Work on the City of Catoosa's new Hamby-Lynch Public Safety Complex is progressing. City Manager John Blish said the target date for completion is March or April 2024.

The new dual-purpose center is named in honor of Chief of Police J.B. Hamby who was shot and killed after responding to a robbery in progress at a local driver's licensing station in Sept. 1, 1978, and Fire Chief Dale Lynch, who founded the Catoosa Fire Station in 1965. Lynch died June 17, 1991.

This is the 45th anniversary of Hamby's death.

The new complex will house both the City Police Department and the Fire Department. It is located at the corner of Highway 167 and Pine Street, "a more central location," Blish said.

Public safety is front and center in Catoosa's plan to meet the demands of a growing population. In 2020, Catoosa saw a 6.2% spike in its population after several decades of declining growth.

In less than two years, city voters have passed a $20.1 million bond issue to fund the construction of the new public safety complex. In August this year, they passed two propositions that provide additional revenue to the public safety pot for operations and other expenses.

The two propositions past in August will add 1% of a Public Service Company franchise fee for public safety. The 3% increase to the Hotel/Motel tax will further support public safety.

"Due to growth being seen in city in residential areas this helps our response times to be centrally located," Blish said.

The City of Catoosa has 17 police officers and 11 firefighters.

"But we are still trying to hire; we have some openings," Blish said.

Census data over the last five years showed a dramatic uptick in population from a downward trend up until 2019-2020 in Catoosa. Catoosa is the second largest city by population completely within Rogers County boundaries has a current population of around 7,439 residents (U.S. Census). Surrounding growth which includes new housing developments bring more people to the area.